As much as we’d love to already be stuck knee-deep in a messy home improvement project we’ve had to get a few less exciting jobs out of the way first and cleaning the kitchen was top of my priority list. I don’t know about you but for me having a clean kitchen makes everything else that’s wrong with the apartment seem less of an issue.
I’d still really like a new kitchen but given that we’ve just spent a fortune on a new apartment and already have dozens of home improvement projects planned we obviously can’t afford to splurge on a new kitchen just now.
It isn’t all bad though (or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself). By waiting we can get to know the apartment and the way we use it. We can get a feel for the flow and make a better decision on if actually moving the kitchen to the front of the apartment really does make sense for us.
Oh, and if you’ve been following us along our journey, you’ll also know that we’re planning on painting the kitchen cabinets and we’re letting you decide what they should look like! Totally mad? Possibly, but we had faith that you all have good taste! Spoiler: You didn’t let us down!
So, in an attempt to make the kitchen work better for us until we can afford to install the kitchen of our dreams, we’ve been busy making a few changes.
As just mentioned cleaning the kitchen was probably the single most time-consuming part of our whole “get the kitchen to work for us” project. It wasn’t caked in dirt but it was grimy.
There was just no way I would have been able to feel comfortable with a kitchen that I’d not bleached the life out of I’m sure that the cupboards are also a shade lighter now!
#2 Removed the grill & installed a coffee station
There was an old grill in the tall cupboard. It worked but I know that we would have never used it which is why we decided to remove it (when I say we I, of course, mean Jan because it was surprisingly heavy) and use the space as a kind of coffee/ hot drink station.
It’s really surprising how such a tiny change can have such a big impact on the way you use a space.
#3 Removed cupboards & existing extractor (that didn’t work)
I hated the extractor fan. It totally dominated the whole kitchen and worst of all didn’t even work. In addition to that, the long tall cupboards on either side of the extractor fan cupboard were kind of pointless as I could only reach the bottom shelf.
We already have more than enough storage space in the kitchen (especially as there’s the added bonus of a pantry) which is why we decided that our best option was to rip out all of the upper cabinets on this side of the kitchen.
We still need to patch up the wall and install a new extractor (we still had one in storage from our previous kitchen) and we’d also like to install a couple of shelves but it’s amazing how much more open the kitchen already feels!
At heart, I’m still someone who likes to hide as much junk as possible but as much as I hate to admit it, having just one or two shelves does give you a bit of flexibility as well as somewhere to display just a few curated bits and pieces which make the kitchen feel cosier than just a purely utilitarian space.
#4 Installed a washing machine
You may have already caught our post about some unexpected snags that we encountered, one of which was trying to get the washing machine to fit under the kitchen counter.
In the end, it turned out to be really easy and we were able to just screw the top off and push it under the counter but we did have a few panic moments (given that we’d just already had to buy a new fridge and a new dishwasher) before we realised that it was such a simple solution.
#5 Replaced sink
I just couldn’t live with the existing sink. Apart from being cracked, it was also so disgusting and stained. There was just no way I would have been comfortable washing any dishes in it.
Now you’d think that with over 6 years of DIY experience where we’ve tackled things like replacing a garage roof, plastering rooms, sanding floorboards and building furniture we would be able to fit a new sink… erm, well, nope.
Okay, so we got there in the end but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. It took us 5 visits to the DIY store to finally get all of the parts we needed and the sink to fit.
The new sink was a different shape than the old which meant that we had to adjust the size of the hole for the sink to fit.
Then we realised that we couldn’t just connect it to the existing pipes as they were too short – so we bought new connections.
Then there was still a part missing so we bought more parts and when it was finally connected realised that it leaked.
Then, after yet another trip to the DIY store, where we bought some silicone everything now works fine (or at least it seems to be!). All of this wasn’t helped by the fact that we still had no light in the kitchen so had had to resort to this not-so-elegant lighting solution.
The sink may now be new but the tap is still the leaky old one. We’ve just ordered a new one so that’s next up on our quick kitchen fix list.
#6 Attached lighting
After finally purchasing a ridiculously long ladder to be able to reach our ceilings we were able to install a load of light bulbs throughout the apartment including the kitchen.
Yet again our kitchen threw us a bit of a curveball. We connected the light fitting the same way as in all other rooms, turned on the light switch and nothing. Given that this was the night before a bunch of Jan’s work colleagues were due to visit for a small housewarming it really wasn’t ideal.
In the end, it turned out that the light switch just wasn’t connected correctly and when we finally got around to checking the problem two weeks later it turned out to be a really easy problem to fix. Now, all we need to do is actually replace the bulb dangling from the ceiling with a lamp!
Overall I’m pretty sure you could say that we’re good at ripping out things but obviously slightly less good at actually putting things back together again!
#7 A new tap
In part one we shared our new stainless steel sink. To go with the new sink we’ve now also installed a new tap. The existing one was really yucky and it leaked a lot. Whilst most of our improvements are only temporary we figured that in this case, we’d be better off investing in a high-quality tap that we can refit it in our new kitchen (whenever we get one that is).
It’s so weird how much difference having a good-quality tap makes! (We opted for this one by Grohe.) Best of all, it only took about half an hour to remove the old tap and install the new one and honestly if you can assemble any flat-pack furniture you’ll totally be able to install a tap! It really couldn’t be easier!
#8 A new extractor fan
We ripped out the existing broken extractor fan along with the cupboards next to it just after moving in. We really couldn’t just leave it as it was so installed a new extractor fan.
It all sounds way more elaborate than it is though, as we still had an extractor fan hood thing in storage from a previous kitchen we owned. It’s not the best or most exciting improvement ever but having a working extractor is definitely a bonus and as this addition cost us absolutely nothing (other than 3 wall plugs) it made total sense to install it.
#9 New shelves (& a bit of painting)
Together with our “new” extractor fan we also installed a shelf that at least partly makes up for the cupboard we removed. We don’t need the storage at all as there’s already more than enough but we like having at least one shelf to display a few things and have a couple of our most used items in easy reach.
As you can see, we painted the area where the cupboards used to be, too. The wall is still a complete mess with holes everywhere but with so many other jobs to do it’ll have to do for now!
#10 A new dishwasher
We had decided to keep the existing rather ancient dishwasher because there’s no point in spending money on things you don’t have to – especially after purchasing a new home!
We used a solution that runs through a cleaning cycle on the dishwasher to give it a proper clean and get rid of any dirt but after running the cleaning programme we realised that the pump wasn’t working properly and all of the dirty water just stayed in the bottom of the dishwasher. So annoying and disgusting at the same time!
As we’re planning on buying a new kitchen as soon as possible we considered buying a temporary and cheap dishwasher but figured that like the new tap, it made sense to buy a good one now that we’ll keep and reuse in our new kitchen.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that I love to hide things which is why we opted for a built-in dishwasher. We still have to buy a temporary front for it but we’ll switch to match our new kitchen in the future.
Another reason to add a front as soon as possible is that without one the door isn’t heavy enough so that it jumps back up quickly – I have a big bruise on my head to prove it (yes, I really shouldn’t have stuck my head in the dishwasher!).
My favourite feature, other than that it cleans dishes, of course, is that it projects the remaining cleaning time onto the floor.
If you caught our previous post about some of our unexpected home issues you’ll already know that our super-high ceilings are one of them. As amazing as they are, they also meant that we had to go out and buy yet another ladder to even be able to reach them.
Needless to say, it’s taken us a while to get round to adding the few lights we own but we finally have a kitchen lamp!
Now for what you’ve all been waiting for – the results of our kitchen painting survey are in!
And the winner is…
The two-tone kitchen is the clear winner! Thank you so much to all of you who voted.
And as we promised, it really is what we’ll be doing! We still need to pick up a few sample pots to determine the exact colours but painting the kitchen has now been added to our ever-increasing to-do list!
Do you have a kitchen appliance you just can’t live without? Mine is obviously the dishwasher! Have you ever painted a kitchen? Do you have any tips for us? Which kitchen option did you vote for?